SURVIVAL OF THE MOST NEUROTIC
There are some days when being a family member of a Neurotic Disney Person (NDP) is all about survival. This is especially true when the individual is a parent and the primary caretaker. The reason is because when important Disney events take place, the individual’s neurosis consumes the mind temporarily and often interferes with the person’s capacity to function in routine daily activities. Today would be one of those days.
Waking with a start, I realize I’ve overslept. I shriek, “It’s ten past nine! They’ve been accepting applications for ten minutes already!” Jumping out of bed and running to the computer in my pajamas, I wonder how something like this could have happened.
I had carefully prepared so that this morning would be free, and I could focus on the event of the day. Preparation for homeschooling was taken care of the previous night so that the kids could operate independently for a while. The house was straightened and cleaned so that I could think clearly. Our supplements were neatly laid out so that this part of the routine would already be out of the way, and everyone was informed that I was not to be disturbed until my task was completed. It is completely frustrating, therefore, that I am off to a shaky start by rising late.
It is the first day that Disney is accepting applications for the 2010 Walt Disney World Mom’s Panel, a panel of online parents that share views, answer questions and provide vacation advice to families that are planning their own WDW trips. Beginning two days ago, my ability to sleep left me because my mind refused to stop mulling over potential questions and answers for my online application. Spells of jittering also began to affect my legs as I studied an online article detailing the application process experience of a past panelist. Last night I finally collapsed in bed around nine o’ clock due to sheer exhaustion. This must be the reason for oversleeping.
Thankfully, my darling offspring have taken initiative by rising and beginning their school activities on their own. This allows me to find the coveted undisturbed time with the internet that I hoped to attain. At least that part of my plan has gone smoothly.
As I sit in my desk chair, I smile and think of my own cleverness in booting up the computer last night so as not to waste time with it this morning. But when I shake my mouse to wake the desktop from it’s cyber sleep, I am horrified by my discovery. A pre-schooler has attempted to start one of her CD-Rom games and–in the process–changed some of the settings on the screen and froze the CPU. “NNOOOOO!!!,” I yell. Now I will have to sit through the agony of shutting down the computer and rebooting as it checks our system for errors.
After a period of time that resembles eternity, I finally have rebooted, logged into the Walt Disney World Mom’s Panel homepage, and found the application. It is “go time.” There are three text boxes awaiting my carefully typed responses. The first box petitions me: “Tell us about yourself and your family.”
I have always insisted that I am too complicated to be put into a box. I have even declared it on my Facebook profile page, but this is the very thing that Mickey wants me to do within a hundred words or less. There is so much more to me than a hundred words. Where do I even begin?
I struggle to define myself with such brevity. At least twenty minutes have passed, and I still can’t figure out which aspects of my personality I should highlight in my identification. Wife? Parent? College graduate? Honor student? Disney fanatic? Special dietary needs expert? Creative writer? Social media glutton? Primary family vacation planner? Toilet-bowl scrubber? The pressure mounts. Everything rests on selecting the perfect words to adequately relay the thought that I AM A WALT DISNEY WORLD MOM’S PANELIST . . . or at least that I am meant to be.
I manage to simplify some of my thoughts and put them into 100 characters exactly when I hear, “Mom, we are getting hungry.” Turning away from the monitor, I find Margeaux standing patiently. Pixie wings! I have forgotten all about eating. It’s 9:30am, and no one has consumed the most important meal of the day. “OK,” I respond. “Go back to your schoolwork. I’ll fix it in a moment. I just want to proofread this response first.” Hades! This is one of those mornings when I wish I could just put a bowl of Frosted Flakes and milk in a bowl and be done with it, but our special diet eliminates all processed and pre-packaged edibles. The “specialness” of our diet doesn’t feel so “special” at the moment. It feels more like an inconvenient burden.
Five minutes later I am still at the computer proofreading my first answer. “MOOOOMMMM,” someone wails. Curses! Why do little mouseketeers have to eat? This just isn’t the time. I hastily get up, run to the kitchen and whip up a balanced and nutritious meal for my three famished dwarfs. Then I dash back to my cyberspace Disney connection. There are more pressing things to attend to than creating food for little people. I can’t help but wonder if Snow White ever felt this way. After all, food was her downfall.
Next question to answer in 100 words or less: “What makes you a Disney expert?” I respond out loud, “Other than the fact that I am completely obsessed with the brand and all it encompasses?” I sigh and acknowledge that this answer will be no easier to tackle than the first.
The truth is that I spend a large segment of my life staying current on Disney news, participating in Disney forums, studying Disney trivia, listening to Disney podcasts, planning our annual Disney vacation in thorough detail, writing about the happenings of my Disney lifestyle, socializing with Disney contacts on twitter, guiding many others as they make Disney plans of their own, and contemplating more creative ways to incorporate Disney into my life. This is the reason that I was the one who organized a week-long reunion at Disney in celebration of my grandfather’s birthday for a 30+ member party even though my entire extended family lives in Florida (and I do not). But how do I express this fully, sensibly, and humbly in this restrictive box? I hate restrictive boxes.
Ten o’clock finds me still typing, deleting, rethinking and retyping my words. “Mom,” a voice timidly petitions. This time it is Miller. “What is it, son?” I ask in return. Miller seems a little nervous. He was previously told not to disrupt the flow of my creative juices during this critical time, but something has still prompted him to dare challenge his instruction. “I need some help with my schoolwork,” he presents. “Miller, I know that I constantly emphasize that education is of utmost importance, but sometimes it really isn’t. Right now what is of utmost importance is that your Neurotic Disney Mom finds a way to show Mickey Mouse how much he desperately needs her to guide the world in properly conducting their Walt Disney World Resort vacations. Doesn’t that sound important?” Miller’s eyes widen. He grasps the magnitude of what I am attempting to conquer and nods his head in agreement. “Well, why don’t you go play for a bit. When I have wrapped things up in here, I will help you with your problem, and we’ll finish your schooling which is almost of utmost importance.” Miller grins with this request and runs off.
Approximately 20 minutes after ten o’clock, I have completed and proofread my answer for the second question. It was extremely difficult. Trying to find words to make myself stand apart from every other Walt Disney World Moms Panelist applicant was not an easy task. I still am not confident that I have done so successfully, but I concede that I have done my best and must proceed.
The third box requests that I explain any special talents that I possess. Hmmm . . . I can think about Disney every waking moment to the exclusion of all else in life. Joel considers that a very rare talent, but somehow it doesn’t seem like that will secure me a position on the panel of which I long to be a part. I am now sweating. My nerves are wracked. My stomach is in a knot. Why now—in my moment of truth—can I not pinpoint the talents I hold, allowing me to dominate in this dog-eat-dog Disney selection process? Have I made it this far to meet my end at this starkly naked text box?
Finally I manage to represent myself as a person with notable writing and people skills and pray to the Tiki gods that it is enough. Ten thirty has come and gone. Upon this realization, I experience a brief moment of panic. Only the first 20,000 applications will be accepted. After that the opportunity to apply is closed. Am I too late? It has been a whole hour and a half since the first applications were submitted. Perhaps my faulty start this morning has disqualified me from this fierce competition. I have not a second more to lose, so I hastily click the “submit” button on my screen.
As I watch my screen flash to a new shade of purple, notifying me that my application has successfully been accepted, I breathe a sigh of relief. It’s over now. I can do no more, and life can resume in normalcy. I have put my best squeaker forward, and now the only thing left to be done is wait . . . and wait . . . and wait. But I wonder, “Would it hinder life too much if I were to eat and sleep at the computer desk until the results are announced?”