In last week’s post, I sang a song of respectful melancholy about intentions that never made it to the execution stage, having lingered in the idea stage so long that they just ended up taking up valuable psychological and physical space and were better served abandoned. Most of those were about meals that never got cooked but for fear of misleading my readers into thinking that a single post could possibly represent this issue of unspoken but no less broken promises to my self and my family, I offer up another one.
My problem, in part, is that I am a planner. I’ve always been weak in classroom math (though I was awesome in geometry, so much so that when I got my first exam back from my teacher in tenth grade I got up to hand it back to him thinking he’d given me someone else’s. Oh sorry, you gave me the wrong…hey, how’d my name get…oh…wait…this is mine? Anyway, I think of planning as my math. It feels like math to me anyway, except that I like it and enjoy the mental workout—more geometryish than mathish for me I guess. I work to figure out equations of time and money and preference (as with cooking), of the fit of similar and contrasting elements and of solving for the missing variable (as with holiday gatherings and meals), of complicated word problems about time and schedules (as with anything family, and also with planning a course I am teaching), of plotting out location and timing (as with gardening). The problem-solving I do in all this is my math. The good kind. Where I like it and get an A. As long as planning will suffice. It’s the completion stage I have so much trouble with. Things aren’t nearly as neat organized and beautiful and fun and delicious in this stage as they are in the planning stage.
I’ve been planning to rearrange my dining room for at least two years now so I can see my china cabinet from where I sit in the family room…I never get to enjoy my dishes in that cabinet because I’m always scurrying past them in their current location. It actually might be three years I’ve been planning this. But moving the cabinet means moving what’s on the wall and that will mean confronting that only one ill-placed piece is on the wall and that I need to do something with those walls, like put up the plate display that has been on the floor for three years, next to the Scrabble game that has been there since at least three Thanksgivings ago, maybe four. I wish I were kidding.
Now I do have a pattern of follow-through on some things. On occasion. I do have nice family gatherings at my house over the winter holidays and once each summer. I do finish teaching each course I create, though perhaps with less fervor near the end than at the beginning; luckily by that point my students are too strung out to notice. And I did send my son off to “eighties day” at his school looking like some cross between John Bender from The Breakfast Club and Axl Rose. I did complete the task of moving around all three bedrooms upstairs—my office to my son’s room with glorious windows which he kept shut in his boycave, his room to my daughter’s since she has an apartment now, and her room to my former office. It was chaotic but totally doable given that we had help on the moving and the painting parts. I did begin and end a monstrous load of laundry last night. I did clean up and decorate my house for the holidays (and am planning a party largely for the purpose of getting more mileage from the effort. My fantasy for this party is that the planning stages will be so completely amazing that this time I will NOT spend most of the party sitting by myself in the living room because I’m too exhausted from the labor to even mingle). I did manage to bring to fruition my last couple of summer reunions, and last Christmas and this Thanksgiving family gatherings, so I’m hoping I’m on a roll.
But there are still the hubcaps of my car that are so completely filthy that mere words here won’t do the filth justice. There are wall hangings that need to be adjusted—just simply moved a bit with my hand, mind you. There are Facebook and Twitter posts that I don’t seem to have time to write (remember the latter can only be 140 characters long), plastic bags that need to be taken back to the grocery store for recycling, a facial I paid for and haven’t yet had, a full closet of shelves in my new home office that needs to be organized, a blog post that needs a conclusion…