What’s Your Plan Z?


This is a guest post from my hometown homegirl, Alex of Unicorns for Socialism fame. Let’s all give ourselves over
the the fantasies of failing spectacularly!

Everyone has a “Plan A” — the one where everything goes right, you get the girl (or guy), your novel gets published, your hair stays lustrous and you end your earthly days eating goat cheese and crystalized lavender in an Italian villa with your BFF and a couple of retired greyhounds.Most people also have a “Plan B” — a contingency scenario. A pessimistic, but acceptable alternative to the ecstatic glory of Plan A. It might involve teaching, getting a roommate, or going back to school. It’s usually vague-ish, because it’s not fun to think about. It has the faintest tinge of failure, because it’s not success — it’s settling.I don’t like to contemplate my “Plan B,” because the more I think about it, the more possible / viable / likely it becomes.

Instead, I prefer to fantasize about my “Plan Z” — the absolute worst-case scenario. The end of the road. The point of no return. The bottomest bottom. The lowest low. The pit of despair. EPIC. FAILURE.

For me, “Plan Z” means losing the house I worked my booty off to buy at the age of 24 and renting a raggedy studio apartment for $400 a month. Instead of working as a freelance writer / editor / resume rockstar, I’d get a grim gig as a graveyard shift bartender in the dive bar to end all dive bars. I’d wear the same pair of jeans every day, drink drip coffee from McDonalds and eat 99-cent packs of Hostess snack cakes. I’d sing Dolly Parton songs to the bikers and drunks who littered my bar. At the end of my shift, I’d trundle home to my empty bed — make that empty mattress — on the floor. On my days off, I’d drink cheap boxed wine and make sandwiches out of welfare cheese and Wonderbread. I’d curl my hair with empty Diet Coke cans and stare at gasoline rainbows in gutter puddles.

Can I make a scandalous admission? My “Plan Z” actually sounds kinda awesome. And by admitting to myself that the absolute worst-case scenario I can envision is (gasp!) “kinda awesome,” I’ve just taken the power (and terror) out of failure. That’s the beauty of having a Plan Z.

So your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to articulate your “Plan Z,” in all its wretched glory. Own it. Love it. Know that you’ll never actually do it — but that even if you do, you’ll still be okay. More than okay — you might even be kinda awesome.

23 Comments

Euforilla

I had already red this, linked by Gala Darling I think…
Anyway it's always a good one!

I still havent thought about my plan Z though… it might be time!

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Karen Travels

If I was to lose my teaching job, and unable to find a new one, my plan z would be to live in my car. I would wash my hair in rest area sinks and spend glorious amounts of time in libraries and state parks taking pictures. I would have to pay for gas and insurance though, so I would stop at craft fairs all over the United States and sell my photography.

Wow, I like my plan z a lot.

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katie d.

LOVE this concept.

You know what took a lot of terror out of life for me? Actually getting laid off, while I had some considerable debt and was preparing to get married. It felt like epic failure for a time.

But you know what? My laid-off time ended up being super happy and I found work and we chugged along just fine—even better than fine.

I'm not so scared anymore.

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iris

My plan Z would involve moving back into my parents house and sleeping in the top bunk of my youngest brother's bedroom.

…at least it has air conditioning?

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elizabeth

My plan z starts with me getting laid off, which is quite possible because architecture is a sad, sad industry right now. I would ditch my apartment (since unemployment wouldn't cover what it costs to live there) and sell everything I own except a few clothes, personal items, and my car. I would hop in said car and couch surf my way to every corner of this country. Well, maybe not Hawaii with that whole ocean thing getting in the way of driving. Unemployment checks would cover gas, food & my meager car insurance premium. I would apply for other positions consistently on borrowed wi-fi and continue my journey until I'm able to work again. I'd love to document that experience on a blog or for a book.

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Alexandra Franzen

Whoo hoo! Thanks for sharing your Plan Z's, peeps. And thanks to Sarah Von for reposting my original entry.

@Rachel: "More rain, less bikers" should be the London travel bureau's official tagline.

@Euforilla: Haha. Plan Z is evvvverywhere! Can't wait to hear your story.

@Lorra Fae: Your story is fantabulous. Thanks again for sharing.

@Karen Travels: I'm lusting after your Plan Z. US rest stops are secretly oarsome!

@Heather: Wine should be a part of Plan A, B and Z.

@Katie: Sounds like you were "FUNemployed!" So glad you turned an icky situation into a swell experience.

@Iris: Air conditioning is key. Could be much worse!

@Elizabeth: I'd read that blog, fo shoo! Maybe you could build model homes and sell them to toy stores in Hawaii. Genius. Done.

ALEXANDRA FRANZEN
♥ E-mail: alexandra@alexandrafranzen.com
♥ Web: http://alexandrafranzen.com
♥ Twitter: @alex_franzen

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Catherine

Plan it? Heck, I've lived it! It was epic and horrifying, but it was also completely awesome. When you look back on the mushroom cloud rising from what was once your life you feel a) strange relief, b) amazement that you're still standing, c) a realization that pretty much *nothing* scares you anymore, and d) the freedom to rebuild the way *you* want to. I don't want to relive it, that's for sure, but it sure was a necessary trip.

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Esti

My plan Z involves finding myself done with school (at about 33), with multiple graduate degrees and nothing to do with them. The job market for English professors isn't wonderful (or improving), so I think about this all the time. I'd end up downplaying my PhD to avoid seeming overqualified, and teaching high school in some far-out suburb, commuting an hour from the city just to keep myself from losing my mind. Being too worn out from teaching five classes a day to go to gallery openings or poetry readings (or write anything to read), spending my evenings becoming a super-regular at the nearest cheap bar.

I've done that last bit… the tiredness and the local bar, and it was a great year. Mostly because I had an amazing friend to drink with. We'd occasionally motivate each other to do things like write or go someplace new. The thing I'm most afraid of in this scenario is, in fact, being bored and exhausted without someone else to prop me up.

Even if I did end up a suburban high school teacher, it wouldn't be the end of the world. A few of my English teachers in high school were so encouraging and wonderful that they get lots of the credit for where I am today. I'd like to think that I'd be that kind of teacher, talking books after class with the voracious readers and lending my copies of Jack Gilbert and Anne Bishop to the budding poets. Letting everyone romanticize the hell out of Wonder Boys. It's a living.

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resolute twig

I LOVE this post. I ready it when I was in the midst of a freak out because it looks like A B and C are now out the window.
Thanks for making it all seem a little brighter and more full of possibility. 🙂

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somewhere else

this concept is effin' aye.

(the kind of lingo that would punctuate my sentences in my plan Z, but that's the only detail I've fleshed out so far)

You've just made my day by posting this up, Sarah. Thankyou author!

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Chrissy Foreman C

This post is so freaken awesome, it almost makes me feel excited about everything *&%$ing up just to see how I'd deal with that. It'd all be okay!
Thanks for such fantastic food for thought x

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Holly

I drop out of college two semesters short of a degree and go work at McDonald's, secretly subverting them with vegetarian tracts folded up into origami cows and hidden in the fries packets. I spend absolutely no money (except for printing those tracts) until I can afford to move out of my parents' place into a single-room-occupancy where I have to shoulder past johns and dealers to get to my door, in a building that the city keeps trying to demolish for ugliness. definitely a mattress on the floor, I dig that. I will never sell my camera, though, and I will go hungry in order to afford film development! oh, and I take a series of mind-blowingly keen-eyed portraits of johns and dealers.

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Kat

Fantastic post!

My plan Z would involve living in a hostel, sharing my room with tourist backpackers. I would be a failed writer, a tortured artist. I would have a string of bad relationships behind me and would spend my evenings chain smoking and drinking red wine!

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Anna

Interesting. I haven't even thought about a plan Z.

I think gasoline rainbows are beautiful 🙂

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Glynis

My Plan Z would probably involve finding a very old, very dilapidated abandoned building and beginning an empire of cats. I would ride a squeaky, rusty bike everywhere and shake my fist at passers-by.
My goal would be secluded and eccentric enough that legends would begin to arise about who I was, where I came from, and so on and so forth. Small children would pass by my property and quake in fear, and tell stories to newcomers about my mysterious ways.
I would live off the land as much as possible.
It would be awesome.

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Eyeliah

Plan Z? Living in a tent, near the beach and then down south in a hammock all winter. Whittle and make jewelry to pay my way back and forth? Eat berries off the trees and whatever else I can find. Also slightly awesome.

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awesome

I think about my plan z a lot, because I've only got one semester left of undergrad. It involves me continuing to work at Sears while I look for a real job, except I'd have to take more hours or get a second job. I'd keep living with my parents for a while while I pay off some of my debt and build up a bit of money to move out into a cheap apartment. Hopefully I could get a friend to be my roommate but if not I could ask around to find one. I'd get internet but no tv or cable and use my cell with no land line. I'd always pack my lunch and diligently shop the sales at grocery stores. I'd buy my booze cheep and predrink before i went out to save money on drinks.

not too bad, except it's also my plan B.

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