Tag Archives: busy

Very Busy and Important

24 Aug


Me.  I am very busy and important.  Okay, maybe just busy…  This week goes down in history (I’m probably forgetting some weeks in history) as the Busiest Week Ever.  It’s kind of a funny story…

Normally, I work Tuesday-Saturday, as I mentioned in my last post.  This week, however, we were going to be closed on Saturday due to a work function in Chicago that did not involve me.  So I opted to work Monday-Friday for a free three-day weekend!  Plus, I’d have been home alone, so I was going to have a party in my basement.  At least one person said they’d come.  Then, however, I was asked to join on this Chicago thing.  Oh, and I need you to still work Monday.  Fiiiine.  Plans: canceled.  Fun: over.  It turns out that having a one-day weekend makes me a little, shall we say, testy.  So in my testy state, I did some quick math and figured I’m working 99 hours this week.  Including commute time… it sounds more pitiful.

Once I finished feeling sorry for myself, I started to panic.  First, I do need to sleep.  So, working around that and my 14-hour days, I need to get the basic things accomplished, and get my business-suited self off to Chicago for a long day and a black-tie evening.  *deep breaths start… NOW*

I’ve got some systems in place to get me through my busy weeks, but this week my systems are failing me.  Part of my week-prep involves making an egg bake for breakfast all week.  It’s the greatest thing, because you can change the ingredients around to suit your mood.  The base is a loaf of crusty bread, like a baguette, an egg mixture, and cheese.  But you can use goat cheese, or cheddar cheese, or swiss cheese, and so on.  You get the idea, right?  Sometimes a little goat cheese with spinach and bacon is nice.  Sometimes I like to use the Mexican cheddar and throw in some olives and chorizo and have myself some huevos for the week.  Life on the edge.  One of these days I’ll teach you all how to make it.  For now, though, I’ll just wish I had some.  One-day weekend system fail.

Another system failure: I set up the coffee pot each night… okay, I’m lying.  He sets the coffee up.  He also puts a mug of it on my bedside table in the morning, and that has become my alarm clock.  I know, spoiled.

Okay, he doesn’t put a picked flower with it, but I am NOT complaining.  (Even if the occasional flower would be nice…)
This coffee thing is a double time-saver, though.  First, I get coffee in my system ASAP so that I can function to get out the door ever.  I won’t say it happens quickly, because it doesn’t.  I am my mother.  I also take a mug of it with me, saving me a stop on the way to work.  I didn’t say these were innovations, just systems.  And this one won’t happen all week because I simply can’t drink a whole pot (i.e., I like to go to Caribou).
And did I say I was my mother?  Not quite.  I’ve got my own spin on it… She has to leave the house 6 times before she leaves the house, each door slam louder than the last.  I just cover all those trips in and out before I walk out the door.  Same amount of time, less obvious malfunction.  Always improving on the previous generation.

I’m working on a system to get the dishes and laundry done so that I don’t come home to a disaster zone, but I’m not sure where exactly that fits in.  I’m starting to wonder how other people get things done.

Sure…

The Opposite of Shopping

18 Aug


We’re having a garage sale.  No, not a two-for-one on garages, but a smorgasbord of discards.  There will be treasures ranging from absolute junk to stuff I just don’t need or use anymore.  Or ever.  It gets better… it’s not just my junk, but the junk of 3 other households as well!  The next few days will determine whether this is the best or the worst idea ever born of this group of ladies.  And it’s got competition in both directions, so it’s going to be a close race.

Donation is the way we usually get rid of stuff around here, but did you know that Goodwill won’t accept Christmas items in the summer?  When on earth do you think I go through my Christmas stuff??  So it’s important that these items sell this weekend.  It is not important that I take home a great profit (except on my vintage historical stereo with detachable speakers and double tape deck), it’s important that I NOT take home any Christmas stuff.  So, garage sale it is!

This forces me to look at my stuff and ask myself if I want to move it again.  There’s no telling how far the next move might be, so it’s an important question.  That cookie sheet?  Definitely not.  Not moving that guy again, he doesn’t pull his weight.  Cookies and frozen pizzas just stick, and stick, and stick.  But the stereo with detachable speakers – yes, detachable speakers! – that I bought in 9th grade?  With my own money, mind you.  VERY industrious at 14.  I flamed out early.  I’ll put that stereo in the sale pile.  But I’m definitely pricing it out of range so that I can continue to move it from house to house.  This way, though, he thinks I tried my best to get rid of it and it just wouldn’t sell.  It’s vintage!  A piece of history!  I’m sure you understand.

The trick will be to resist taking my fistful of cash (or pennies) and reinvesting it.  Garage sales are their own circle of life.  You buy something at a garage sale, and ultimately end up selling it at a garage sale.  You take the money handed to you in exchange for that item, and rush out to “reinvest” it in someone else’s vintage electronics.  Or whatever your thing is.  My most recent treasure?  A vintage ash tray.  I don’t smoke.

Isn’t she lovely?

With my recent vow of thriftiness, the idea here is to take my profits and invest them in an actual bank.  No shopping.  I’m pretty sure I can do it unless I run across new lampshades for my kitchen chandelier or a sewing machine that I just cannot pass up.  I’m sure you understand.  To help me stick to it, I’m counting this as a “revenue stream.”  Someone told me once that a household should have several revenue streams – ideally, 7 of them.  Did you know that?  Me either.  It’s interesting to think about, though, and I think it can’t be bad to shoot for.  We each have a job: check, check.  I think investments count: check…?  Once or twice a year, I sell some junk or some craftiness: check.  Still need three more streams, but I’m not sure I can be bothered about that just yet.  Someday, friends, enough people will read these ramblings that this very page could be a revenue stream… okay, maybe not.

When you’re cruising the sidewalks this weekend, snapping up other peoples’ junk (it’s probably an antique!  they don’t even know its value!), bid persistently.  Don’t let those ladies emotionally overprice their items out of purchaseland.  That’s their revenue stream and it’s our responsibility to make sure they end the day with cash, not a failed trip to Goodwill.  Go forth and garage sale!

Wa__sabi

6 Aug


My husband doesn’t understand these predicaments, either.

The aforementioned Friend K had a really cool post that has had me thinking for a couple weeks.  She said that her house is “wabi-sabi,” which not the same as my favorite green goo for sushi.

It’s not as tasty, and takes at least as long to get used to.  My favorite translation of it is Mess.  K says is “the acceptance of transience, of seeing the beauty in something that is imperfect, impermanent, or incomplete.”  I did a little wikihomework on the subject, and also liked how they summed it up… “[It] nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”

The house I live in is fine.  Not wabi-sabi in the slightest, and in fact it could use a little more of that.  It was built in 2001, the walls are straight enough, and the carpet is only lightly stained.  I think it’s my life that is wabi-sabi.  Discuss…

Nothing lasts?  I guess I don’t think of material things that way, it’s more that I always have this hourglass in the back of my mind… “Like sands through the hourglass…”  How many times did I hear THAT during pre-employment summers?  More times than my mom wants to know.  For me, time is what doesn’t last.  My favorite moments of gin and tonics on the patio seem very temporary.  Fleeting, even!  My inability to work efficiently could have something to do with it, but as it stands, I feel like days, especially the good ones, go by too quickly.

Nothing is finished?  SERIOUSLY.  Nothing, unless it’s a pizza or a cheeseburger, is ever finished.  I have a special collection of garments at the bottom of my laundry basket that do not get washed.  I don’t ever have the right load to throw them in with, nor do I ever feel it is a “good time” to do a load of hand-washing.

Nor am I good at line drying…
This gives me a little bit of a complex about some things, but this wabi-sabi thing wants me to just accept that the dusting might get done, but not the vacuuming.  Practical application: I’m having a sizeable party this weekend, and it’s just not possible to be “ready” for such a thing.  There’s a pretty constant back and forth in my head that goes a little like, “Agh!  Nothing is done!” and then, “Nobody will notice that you haven’t rotated the picture frames in… ever.”  And so on.

Nothing is perfect?  Well, I think we all KNOW that, but sometimes that doesn’t make it easy.  When Friend B first moved into the apartment that neither of us knew would define our relationship, it was white.  White walls, white carpet, white furniture.  I had spent about 30 seconds in Leiden and the house I stayed in had light wood and white everything else.  Very cool, I thought, so I tried to recreate it in my carpeted suburban apartment.  Fail.  Friend B took my concerned self down to the Home Depot, and we picked out a purple (called “Sassy Pants” or somesuch), a tomato red, and a blue and a green for her room and bathroom that she would later decide was sort of lurid.  Oh well.  The living room was purple, the kitchen was red, and they were connected so it was just a lot of stuff happening that disturbed my sensibilities.

See?  Disturbing.  Lurid.  I’m pretty used to it now.
Note: several years later, my parents would apply the first coat of colored paint their house had seen since 1986.  Good work, Friend B, you even got to the root of the problem.  Don’t even get me started on how she started on the arrangements of knick knacks that were not in a Straight Line or hanging pictures without Using A Level.

More on wabi-sabi… Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.  Generally, I like it.  I think it’s a great model for working with what you have, going with the flow, and not falling into the ginormous trap of the Crate & Barrel catalog of Things I Don’t Have But Totally Need.  I have everything I need, none of it is perfect, I am not finished, and time doesn’t last.  So I guess I’ll have a gin and tonic!

Committed.

28 May

Committed can mean all kinds of things.  Since the underlying current of this blog is my marriage, you might think I’m referring to marital commitment.  I’m not.  I’m referring to the kind of commitment that happens in a psych ward.  Or on a weekly calendar.  Or the relationship between the two.

I think I work too much.  I don’t work too hard, just too much.  Four days a week, I leave for work at about 10:00 am, and get back home between 10:30 and 11:00 pm.  On the fifth day, it’s a more typical 9-5 scenario.  I have a job many people would kill for, but I find myself wishing I could spend more time writing.  Or making messes.  Or cleaning up the messes made by me and Others Who Live In The House.  A brief survey of my friends tells me that a common symptom of being too busy is a messy house.  You have just enough time to come home, drop your things on the floor, and get 6 or 7 hours of sleep.  Then you’re back out the door again.  There isn’t much time left for maintaining any standard of cleanliness, nevermind making a dent in the storage room under the stairs.  I realize I complain about the mess a lot – it’s really not that bad.  If you wanted to drop by my house, I’d like a phone call when you’re on your way, and in 20 minutes I could have it in a perfectly non-embarrassing state.  My goal, though, is to have it set up in such a way that I’m not always putting my energy into arranging and stacking and putting away, so that I can start vacuuming more than quarterly.  That is my goal.  I am committed.

Creativity is a big part of my life.  I dance.  I work at a dance studio.  I (try to) teach people to be creative in their communication and presentation of plans or ideas.  Sometimes I teach dancing.  Sometimes I make jewelry.  Sometimes I spray paint something old to make it look new… or older.  Sometimes I silver leaf something ugly to make it pretty.  Writing is my latest venture into creativity.  My goal is to do it twice a week.  I am committed.

I used to go to church every Sunday.  EVERY SUNDAY.  I also used to rely much more heavily on routine than I do now.  These days, my favorite routine involves a cup of hot coffee and a book or “the news.”  We’ve found a church that we like so far, and have gone consistently for a little while.  Shopping usually helps me stick to new ventures.  Some of you will understand this right away, some of you might need a minute to catch up.  A new outfit will always make your golf game a little better.  A new fishing pole and shiny pink lures might help you catch more fish (or at least you’ll look cuter when you’re pulling up weeds all day).  The same holds for getting back into my church routine: having a new bible makes it just a little more fun to get up early on Sunday.  So, I shopped and now I’m committed.

My calendar is full.  I’m constantly oscillating between simplifying and complicating my life.  These days I’m very committed.  And on the verge of being committed.  But there’s always the insanity plea!