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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Update on Success and Happiness Talk with Gretchen Rubin

Hello, Readers, how the heck are you? I’m here to say that I did have my meeting with Gretchen Rubin (GR) on Sunday. Indeed I did. And I look forward to getting into what we talked about, because it was quite interesting. But I have yet to transcribe my recording, and I have yet to send my piece to GR for approval (I offered, she didn’t ask it of me), so I’m going to save the main bits for another time. I'm aiming for next week. 

Meanwhile, suffice it to say that I had no time to transcribe because I only returned home Monday night and there was “Downton Abbey” to watch, and then Tuesday I was busy all day, most of that busyness revolving around the Capital Region Spelling Bee. The 8th grader was representing her middle school, along with 4 other students, at the regionals. Boy did it take a long time. It took hours, literally. First there was an hour of written testing. Then there were two rounds of onstage bee. With over 150 kids, each of whom was able to ask for pronunciations, definitions, and usage in a sentence of each word, it took a long time. After that, there was elimination down to twenty-five spots, and the semi-finals began. I kept screaming (in my head, mind you, not aloud), “Auntie Mame, fall off! Fall off!” 

Since it’s likely you aren’t as interested in “Auntie Mame” as I, and since it’s even likelier that you don’t consider it a filmic instruction manual for life, as I do, you won’t know that this reference means, “Just flub your way out of this terrible situation.” Which is what Little Patrick Dennis urges Auntie Mame to do when she finds herself having to ride to hounds - side-saddle, no less, even though nobody rides side-saddle anymore— on a horse the town veterinarian has ordered put down, a task she seems likely to fail at most miserably. She doesn’t fall off, in the end, and neither did the 8th grader, until well into the 7th hour.

But you wanted to know about my meeting with GR. Well, I was doubtful it would come through, because I’m something of a pessimist, even if I’m overall an optimist. I insist. But the meeting did come about. I shouldn’t have doubted, actually, come to think of it, because GR is what she calls an Upholder. That means she meets inner and outer expectations, so if she agrees to do something, do it she does. And did. 

It happened in Washington, where I was visiting my father, and where she happened to be giving a book talk and signing at Politics and Prose Bookstore Sunday night to promote her newest book, Better Than Before. When I emailed to confirm, we arranged to meet at the bookstore before she gave her talk. With my friend C (as in met her in college) to support me, and to save me a seat, I met GR in the store’s office and recorded our twenty-or-so minute conversation. 

She was engaged and engaging. In fact, I seem to recall doing a distressing amount of the talking. She was good at drawing me out. Was I amazingly articulate and charming? I can’t say. I haven’t yet listened to the recording. But contrary to my usual self-deprecation, I’m going to mention that I had recently completed some online personality test like the Myers-Briggs but called something else, and the results said I am a charming and charismatic person. So, let’s go with yes. Because online quizzes don’t lie.

Anyway, the conversation went on until it was time for GR to go out and speak, so I considered that a success. I joined C in the crowd. There I marvelled at how GR worked the room. She was quite funny, fast-talking, and smart, and she took a lot of questions at the end. Meanwhile, I became worried that I might accidentally delete my voice memo recording, on the sort of impulse that makes you think you might pitch yourself over the railing of a high balcony or drive into oncoming headlights. (This is a documented impulse, by the way). So I saved it every which way I could think of, including email, Evernote, and text message. Afterwards, I had a nice spanikopita with C and my father. 

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