Personal – On Planning and Mistakes

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry” – adapted from Robert Burns

I am a planner by nature.  If there is some hypothetical situation that requires planning – like a potential move for that big job that I just applied for, or a party, or a vacation, I am all over that.  Even if it’s not a guaranteed thing.  I think it’s the possibility of being able to do things right and for things to turn out well in some new adventure.  There are other things in my life that require thought and planning too.  Today I’m going to talk about some of that as it relates to my cat.


Since we moved, Winston has generally been happier.  He has so much more room to run around during the day, there are windows everywhere for him to peek out, and sunshine pours in all day long making finding a sunbeam for a nap an easy proposition.  So the first few weeks, we had no issues with him meowing at night at our door.  And then…something changed.  I don’t know what it was.  But he decided that he was going to be needy again, and made irregular trips to our bedroom door in the middle of the night.  Sometimes he would do it, others he would not.  But it was just often enough to drive the boy crazy (and me too!).  We started barricading him in the kitchen and living room, because there’s a swinging door there that can close.  But he would push his way out.  Then we started propping it closed with a chair.  That worked for a while, but eventually he learned how to get around that too.  My cat, he is a needy Houdini.  There was no stopping him, and it was not great for our sleep cycles.


And then I started doing some research.  What we needed was a way to close the door, something that the cat wouldn’t be able to push open in the night, that would be slightly less of a fire hazard than the clunky chair.  I did some serious googling and discovered that I’m not the only one with a cat driving me crazy in the middle of the night.  It was during this search that I stumbled upon the idea of a magnet.  Something strong that we could attach to the door and the wall that would stay shut, be difficult for the cat to try and push open, but simple enough for us to get through.  I found a magnet that said it would hold 50 pounds – a force I’m sure that my 13 pound cat could not provide without injuring himself – I was excited.  I started to make plans.


The first step would be painting the magnet so that it was white like the door.  We couldn’t possibly have people be able to see at a glance that our cat problem was so bad that it required the purchase of a heavy duty red plastic magnet.  I was so pleased with how it came out too – it was a lovely shiny white that matched the door in question, and would really be perfect.


Next, I would install the metal plate on the wall.  I did this, and was fairly pleased at how trim it look against the door jamb…and then I closed the door.  Strike number one against this plan was how the screws I’d used (those included with the magnet) were slightly too rounded on the top, and scraped against the edge of the swinging door.  If only I’d used flat head screws.  But never mind.  This was a small thing.  No one would see the door edge.  And then I installed the magnet itself.  It looked pretty good.  Except I’d installed it slightly too far away and it wasn’t holding the door shut.  So I removed it, and reinstalled it slightly closer.  Still no cling.  This was strike two in a two strike game, because the only way I would have been able to use that magnet to close the door would be to have it touch the metal plate, and there was no way to do that AND keep the door swinging.  I was ready to give up.

This was the point in the proceedings where the Boy stepped in.  He comforted me in my frustration over not getting this ingenious plan to work.  And then he suggested something very simple.  “Why don’t you just get a bolt lock?”



Oh my God, how could it be so simple?  How could I not have thought of that first?  It turns out I had a kind of tunnel vision.  I had a plan, I’d told the Boy about the plan, and then I just did it without thinking, “Is this the simplest solution?  Is this the best use of my time and money?”  Luckily strong magnets aren’t that expensive, and a bolt lock is even cheaper, but I just think about how much effort could have been saved if only I’d brainstormed with the Boy from the first.

The bolt lock works.  And I’ll have the drilled holes in the door and the jamb as a way to remind myself to plan more slowly and deliberately in the future.  The cat can’t get out.  But like any true living creature, he’s found a new way to torture me.  While he can’t come meow at my door in the middle of the night, he can still yowl loudly from the kitchen…loud enough to be heard upstairs in the master bedroom and the guest room.  Does anyone out there know how to soundproof a cat?

Ok – I can’t be the only one out there who gets ahead of myself in planning, and ends up falling all over her feet.  What have YOU planned that didn’t turn out as expected?  Or what “quick fix” did you try to put together that ended up fixing nothing?  Are you better about consulting all parties involved before taking action?

2 Comment

  1. Nicole Holstein says: Reply

    Well, on one hand, I tried to install a new toilet paper holder in my old bathroom by myself. Turns out there is SOMETHING in those walls (idk if they’re pipes or what..) that are impossible to drill through right behind the drywall in some areas. I just kept trying to move the placement of the holder to find an orientation where the screws straddled whatever it was inside the walls, but without a way to know what it was or predict where it was, I just kept failing over and over again. There was only 1 spot in that tiny apartment bathroom that it made sense to put the holder and so I had few options for moving it around. Eventually, I had drilled so many holes, and inserted and then yanked out so many of those plastic screw-holder things for drywall, that the many little holes kind of became one big hole as the fragile drywall gave way to my many attempts. In the end, I almost cried, I cursed A LOT, and then I just left half the holder loose in the wall. I could have just called the building’s handyman to come do it, but I wanted to be independent…
    On the other hand, I have successfully and cleverly solved many a problem before, by being resourceful. Including building and completely successfully installing a shelf over the stove in that same apartment, installing towel racks and buying S-clips to hang our pots&pans from, and various other McGyver-y fixes that have saved me money over the years. You can’t win them all, however….

    1. maggie says: Reply

      Man, I wish I had pictures from when I installed a curtain rod at my second Gaithersburg apartment, because I left SO MANY HOLES in the wall. Thank god for spackle?

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