May 6, 2011

36 Hour Days: One Woman's Rage Against Time

“You know, days are only 24 hours—you act like they are 36!”

I have heard this many times from my husband over the years. He has said it so much that it has become a joke between us. He thinks that I cram my schedule so full that I can never completely finish all the tasks I give myself. He says I overload my time. He says it’s irrational and I am setting myself up for disappointment. I say I am an optimist and a free spirit.  Who is right? Let’s discover it together…

Let’s begin by laying out the facts.

First, it is true that I have many, many activities. All the time, every day. I like it that way. I work full time, have six children, knit, garden, read, write this blog, sometimes do housework, enjoy cooking, pilates and aerobics, do much of the grocery shopping (which I can tell you in our house is no small feat!), enjoy Sudoku, feed my curiosities online or at the library when I obsess about some interesting topic such as, say, what are the real endings to those Disney fairytales? (I can tell you that Cinderella is a very different story than the one you’ve heard!) I want to learn spinning, dying, design, and more about crochet. I like sewing the occasional Daisy Kingdom dress, lead our knitting club, attend classes at church, badly maintain long-distance friendships with many girls from high school…what else…oh, yes! I also try to fill out my planner weekly, but almost never do.

I have one day off in the center of the week, Wednesday, and use it for all these purposes. Unreasonable? When I lay it out like that, maybe. Probably.

I try to be reasonable, to say “no,” once in a while. Maybe a great while. So far, it seems as though my husband is beginning to look like the winner in this one-person debate.

And, to be fair about that facts, I had better loop in a note about my children. There was an incident a few years back that began when my phone rang as I was driving home from Eugene, Oregon, two hours from my house. It was my son, Alex, who is currently 17, but was in the 4th grade at the time.


“Hi, honey! Are you home, yet?” I was jamming out to the radio, windows down on a lovely, sunny afternoon drive. My then 3-year-old daughter was sleeping in the back seat after a day of ceramic tile painting.

“Uh, no. Mom, I’m at chess club. You were supposed to pick me up.”

Silence. Absolute terror realized, I freaked out—on the inside. I imagined child services taking my son because I left him at his grade school so I could paint tiny cartoon dogs on unfired ceramic squares. I imagined he was standing all alone outside the school, the doors being locked as we spoke and the principal heading home to walk his dog. I couldn’t breath.

What I said was, “Honey, I am too far away. I am going to call Jake’s mom. I’ll call you right back.”

Did it work out? Yes. Was it humiliating beyond humiliating? More than I can say.

Strike two.

Here is the problem as I see it: I like to do too many things and I want to be all in or all out. I don’t want to be half heartedly learning to grow roses or accurately knit lace, I want to understand things inside and out. “Do it well or not at all,” as Grandma Miller used to say.

The struggle then becomes finding the time to do all these things and do them, well…well. The first options that spring to my mind are the following:

  1. Decide to believe in reincarnation and wait until the next life to get that Ph.D.
  2. Do a great job on your planner and stick to your schedule.
  3. Decide #2 is too hard and revert to #1.
  4. Realize that in scenario #1, you will never consciously realize or be able to assimilate your collective accomplishments. Jack of all trades after 5 lives? Hardly.
  5. Choose only your favorite, most useful activities and stick to them.
  6. Realize you are a fickle girl and that #5 won’t work. Admit your ADD.
  7. Listen to your husband.

Finding no answers in these options, I move on to metaphysics/transcendentalism and/or theoretical physics. A little science fiction never hurt anyone. And hey, if it can help me knit a sweater with not only time to spare for another project, but actually leave me with more time than I started with, all the better.

First, there is always light somewhere in the world. It is always noon somewhere, as some of my margarita-loving friends might say. I suppose I could live as though it was always time to get up, a perpetual morning with endless time in front of me. That might require me to travel at the speed of the earth’s rotation in the direction away from the dawn so it can’t catch me.  Or it might sound too much like a manic disorder, but let’s entertain it for a moment.

If I didn’t have to worry about crossing oceans, cultural and language barriers, and never had to mind that in each new town I would need an established life with transportation and an income, it would be nice fantasy.  But even if I could, right now, make a personal, life choice to become independently wealthy and buddy up with crazy risk-taker Sir Richard Branson for this project, it’s not quite right. In the scheme of this timeless day, when would I eat dinner?

If I could travel through time, the age-old dream of so many, that might help me complete a few pairs of fingerless gloves or felted purses. However, theoretical physicists say that travelling forward is more plausible than travelling backwards (and I definitely want to go backwards—what good does it do me to eliminate time?).

Furthermore, scientists postulate that if time travel technology ever comes to pass, it may only be in the very distant, if ever, future. This also is no good for my experiment. If it takes, let’s say, 8,000 more years to develop the knowledge and capability for time travel, I’ll be dead by the year 10,011 anyway. And what if the sun burns out by then? Who would even care about time travel if that happens? Everyone will be too busy trying to rediscover fire, while little kids busy themselves trying to find new ways to fry ants on the sidewalk with a magnifying glass but no sun.

No time travel. Sigh.

If there were a way to meditate and astroproject myself into a parallel universe into another life, that would be way cool—except that in that world, there would certainly be another planner, another family, set of children, job, etc. And it’s way too silly.

No, after considering all these things, I believe that I have to concede to my husband, who is not even in the midst of this debate to enjoy his victory: He is right. If I can’t even remember my kids’ dentist appointments, it’s time to change something.

I’ll think about it tonight while I am editing this essay/rant, cooking dinner, and finishing up my plans for the next two weekends with family and friends while finishing a great scarf I have been working on for my friend, replete with bead work and sequined inclusions, and catching up on American Idol….

It’ll work out.


Mokihana said...

Hilarious! Are we related?

Right now Iʻm gonna take off two hours to go knit with a friend. Housework calls. Work calls. There is never enough time!

I donʻt think a day planner would work out very well for me....

The Knitting Muse said...

So with you!!! I am finally off to run errands--should have left an hour ago. Sigh. As you say, never enough time!