My daylight hours are for pretending to write: hopping around the Internet, pausing periodically to click on the lopsided W at the bottom of my MacBook Pro screen and compose a few words before returning to my mail, my blog stats, Twitter, the New York Times.
But ah the evening! After a day of disappointing myself with how little I’ve produced, I can finally look forward to the sense of accomplishment I crave. I turn on the news and face a pile of bills. It soothes me to hear pundits drone about this candidate that President, while I tend to the soothing task of typing numbers. After an hour my reward is a reduced pile of papers on the coffee table.
If, however, I tune into “Smash” or “Survivor” or “The Daily Show,” I get through perhaps one envelope every 20 minutes, the way I used to stare at my day planner, a Filofax wannabe, and get nothing done. Sometimes my online banking times out. After an hour, I ask myself, “Why don’t I just watch TV and not pretend I’m getting things done?”
I answer myself, “I’m too restless to just sit still and watch.” (an aside, Grammar Girl at quickanddirtytips.com says it’s okay to break the misguided rule about not splitting infinitives.)
Sometimes I allow the same news hour to loop twice. Then I look at the clock and it’s midnight. If I race upstairs right then, I can be in bed by one, and at exactly this moment I realize I haven’t yet walked the dog. And I’m hungry again.
Oh, and I haven’t made my to-do list for tomorrow, which is actually today. I pull out a new piece of scrap paper and write the things I didn’t complete today as well as the usual: paperwork, email, file, organize house.
Before anything else, though, now that it’s this late, I become a whirling dervish to get more things done. I raise the TV volume then race to my office to file paid bills in manilla folders. I then distribute around the house the day’s accumulation on the dining room table. I go through my mental bedtime checklist: lock porch doors, take vitamins, fill water bottle, adjust thermostat.
I walk Casey, plop some chicken livers into a small pot and place a piece of bread in the toaster. When I finish eating, it’s after 1 a.m. I limp upstairs because of my bad knee that I really ought to have someone look at.
When I get upstairs, I’ll write on my iCal to get a doctor’s appointment, if I remember this by the time I get to my room. If it were urgent, I’d keep repeating, “knee, knee, knee . . .” till I noted it. But if I forget it in the next 60 seconds, tomorrow I’ll have the same thought.
I run the bath and realize I haven’t stretched. So I scurry to finish my squats and leg raises before the tub overflows. I put my floss and face cream on the tub ledge, so I can perform these nightly events while soaking. Even while bathing I am driven to double task.
I just realized I can save a few seconds by leaving the floss permanently on the tub ledge, which I shall do starting tonight.
After I climb into bed, Casey and I adjust ourselves to the perfect cozy position with his chin on my thigh. At once, I remember that I forgot to charge my phone. Now that I’m upright with phone in hand, it’s hard not to play one last round of Words With Friends.
I might as well pee again in the hope that this will be one of the rare nights I don’t interrupt my slumber to empty my bladder. Casey and I readjust, but it’s never quite as good as it was a few minutes earlier when we first settled in.
I read for seven minutes, not that I’m counting, but that is always how long it takes till my eyelids droop, maybe because I once read that it’s a good sign if you fall asleep within seven minutes. I check the time, 2:14, and set my mental alarm for at least eight hours from now. I close my eyes and imagine myself awakening at 10:14, excited by the prospect of doing a better job of writing. But I’m more excited for the evening, when I can count on myself to get things done.
How do you manage to get things done? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
LOTS ABOUT THERAPY, MARRIAGE, RELATIONSHIPS AND MORE IN MY NEW MEMOIR . . .
The perfect book for worrywarts or anyone who enjoys a “neurotic, hilarious, poignant,” deeply personal story.
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