Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Interlude: Rhythm and Blues

For the last five years, I've been working 8:00 to 4:30, and I've arrived at a decision:

I don't really give a fuck when I brush my damned teeth.

Before my dad got sick and left us, I had this idea in my head that I would eventually achieve perfection, and, in my mind, perfection meant that a grid would superimpose order over my life, neatly compartmentalizing it into flawless squares. (And by the way, that square puzzle that's making the run on Facebook right now? I'm counting 37, not 24, and I'm willing to bet there are more. So much for counting squares.)

At one point, (I was still in my 20's) I literally had my days down to fifteen-minute time increments. (And what is a calendar except for a bunch of squares?) I'm not kidding you when I say that I scheduled brushing my teeth into my...gosh...what was the system then? Stephen Covey? Then I got hooked on David Allen. Don't get me wrong, I could listen to him talk about getting my inbox to zero on CD in my truck on a blustery wintry day driving to Indy for 10 straight hours because it all sounds really lovely.

He reads with perfect rhythm.

But he doesn't live my life.

He's in some other realm where the world waits on him, and he does the world a favor by always being on time. Good for David Allen!

On the other hand, I've lived in a world where I'm waiting on everyone else, even when I was teaching, but especially now in my new position. For example, Think-a-Header X has a proposal due October 5th and started working with me in July. Procrastinator Y has a deadline of September 27th and dropped the proposal in my lap...yesterday, a Sunday, a day I don't check my e-mail because it's the weekend, and I'm not working overtime anymore, and you can't make me...state law!

If I were still teaching, I'd say, "Welcome to the real world: first come, first serve, baby. Suck it up." Except that actually isn't the real world. Procrastinor's research has as much merit as Think-a-Header's. And if either one or both of them get the grants, I look good. My institution looks good. So every morning of my life now I walk into work not knowing what my priority is. I feel secure in knowing that my inbox and calendar will tell me. Secure in insecurity.

There are only two things I can count on in my weekly existence (because I can't count on the day-to-day stuff): I'll be at happy hour Friday afternoon at 4:30 (and one of these days I'll beat my new boss) and Sunday brunch at 10:00 a.m. And even those aren't a given. Sometimes I go rebel and head out backpacking or canoeing. Sometimes I climb mountains. Sometimes I squeeze through tiny holes to find a cave that has potentially never been explored. Sometimes I stay up late at night and write. Maybe I'll feel like cleaning house some time soon or cooking (probably not). I just never know.

And maybe I don't want to know. Because the day I wake up knowing exactly what I have to do every minute of the day is probably the day I'll wake up shaking Satan's hand at the crossroads complete with his retinue of hell fire and pitchforks, time clocks and bells on the quarter- and half-hours. And that devil will be wearing a sharp suit and a fedora cocked at just the right angle, but I'm not giving up to his charms. Better to live in happy chaos than reign over perfect order.

Photo courtesy ĐāżŦ {mostly absent}, http://www.flickr.com/photos/darrentunnicliff/4469318003/sizes/m/in/photostream/

2 comments:

  1. I am so glad that you are enjoying your new job!

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  2. you might not care when you brush your teeth, but I do. For example, you should do it before practice!

    ReplyDelete