Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Bad Romance

I have a confession to make. I have hesitated whether to share but I feel I must. I am in a relationship that I just can’t seem to sort out. Sometimes I think it is working but there are other times it drives me crazy.  And I'm not sure I am even feeling love in this relationship. But then we separate and I just can’t stay away for long. At first I'm okay, then something happens and I always seem to go back with the fantasy that this time, this time, it will all work out.

I’m talking, of course, about my relationship with my “to do list.”

You see, To Do List and I do not get along very well. Sometimes we are okay together, more than this time will be the time it will work out for us. But for To Do List and me the pain and anguish of the looming breakup is built into the mad passion of our coming together. And as much as I’d like to blame To Do List I know the truth. It’s me.
okay even. Sometimes we are amazing together.  I get things done and cross them off and add new items and cross them off too. But, and there is always a “but, “ To Do List and I often don’t see eye-to-eye. Maybe I take To Do List for granted. Or maybe To Do List's expectations are just too much. And it gets worse and worse and more tasks get added and none are marked off.  And finally I can't take it anymore and we go our separate ways. It seems okay at first, but then after a time apart something happens. I realize how much I miss To Do List, we make up, and are together again. And those times when we get back together can be so wonderful and magical. It’s like that first time all over again and I think maybe, just maybe

It’s complicated.

The last time To Do List and I were together I added a simple item: “Hang Pictures.” That was it. I had moved offices at work and brought a few pieces of framed art and pictures home. I was going to hide them away but Lori thought they’d be nice hanging on the walls. So, I added “Hang Pictures” to To Do List. And then I set the pictures on the floor in the office. That was a while ago. Like several months ago. And now To Do List mocks me everyday. And worse To Do List is just making everything seem simple when we both know it isn’t simple. As I said, it’s complicated.

You see, “Hang Pictures” isn’t just “Hang Pictures.” To hang the pictures I need to get the picture hangers from the utility room. I have nails and hangers and wire that are perfect for this in the utility room. Somewhere in the utility room. I think I know where they are, or should be, but our utility room is a disaster area. Seriously. I am not exaggerating. The State of Maryland and the Federal Government have declared our basement utility room a disaster area and we are eligible for aid and low interest loans.

But anyway, those picture hangers, I just know, to find them will take the better part of a couple hours. And I actually might not find them because, as much as I know they are in the utility room, there is a small but nagging probability those picture hangers are actually in the shed. You must think we are a bunch of packrats. Truth is, we are pretty good with clutter management, if I do say so, but there are two areas that have become dumping grounds: The utility room and that shed. Well, three, if you count the upstairs closet.

It goes something like this: The boys just got something nice and kind of expensive for Christmas. They came in boxes. Should we dispose of the boxes or hang on to them, “just in case?”

“Yes, let’s hang on to them, just in case.”
“Sure. Should I just put them in the utility room?”
"(Sigh), yeah, I guess. Just for now.”
(Sigh), ok. Just for now.”

“Just for now,” when accompanied by a sigh, is really short hand for “we really shouldn’t toss any more boxes in the utility room. It’s already a federally declared disaster area but we’ve essentially given in to the clutter.” And the “now” in “Just for now” is only “now” when “now” is marked on an appropriately scaled timeline. Just like Human Civilization has only existed for “now” on a timescale that also includes dinosaurs and giant meteors. So those boxes will stay in the utility room “just for now” when “now” is on our family timeline that includes the birth and death of at least two generations. It’s really not that long at all, you see.

But this also means that “just for now” I am not going to search for pictures hangers in that god forsaken utility room. Better is a trip to our local Ace Hardware for picture hangers. It will cost me more in dollars but much less in time and stress. And this gets to my point. This is where To Do List is a liar. To Do List only mocks “Hang Pictures!” But To Do List expects so much more from me. Besides an additional trip to the hardware store (or worse, clean out the utility room), there are the other expectations: 1) Negotiate with Lori exactly where to hang the pictures, 2) get out the tape measure, 3) measure lines, 4) make sure it’s all level and balanced, 5) get the hammer (which I DO KNOW is in the utility room), and 6) commit to putting a new hole in a perfectly good wall.

To Do List makes it sound so easy as if it were also simple.

Well you know what? It’s not! It may be easy but it ain't simple. Did you hear me To Do List? Yeah, I’m talking to you! It’s more complicated and you just don’t get it. 

And here we go again.

I can’t believe we are back at that some place again. But I just think I need some time away. Some time to myself. I’m just going to set you aside in my desk drawer while I work out a few things. No, I don’t know how long it will be this time. Maybe a couple weeks. I don't know. 

But this time feels worse. I think it’s really over this time. We are through. And the timing really sucks, because I really need To Do List. Especially now. We have moved into a new year and I need To Do List for my Resolutions. I’ve written over on Sister Eden about New Year’s Resolutions, so I won’t repeat it here.  But I have resolved to get the basement in order. In particular the aforementioned Utility Room. I’ve actually blocked time on my calendar. But it is a multi-step process and probably involves buying a new set of shelves or some other storage contrivance. There is at least one trip to the transfer station to dump stuff and possibly some listings on our local FreeCycle or CraigsList. I’m afraid of going it alone. Maybe I shouldn’t have broken up with To Do List so fast. Coming out of the holidays and all the stress. I wasn’t really myself. I hope To Do List understands.

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Resolved! Sort of.

Why do we complicate an otherwise lovely holiday with all these expectations of improving ourselves? See my essay over at Sister Eden.

And Happy New Year!