I’m such a hot mess right now. The boy started kindergarten and the girl started second grade today and I feel positively overwhelmed. Not because I’m actually doing anything, mind you, but because there are so many things I want to do and even more things that I want to want to do but don’t actually want to do. I thought I would have a game plan in action by the time the kids started school, but I don’t have anything other than a bunch of random goals. I’m often asked what I’ve been up to since I retired and the question stresses me out because I don’t have a good answer. I’ve been telling people that I have more on my “to-do” list than my “actually doing” list. The problem is now that I’m unemployed and no longer have to abide by a rigid schedule, I’ve become a total spazz. Or maybe I have ADHD. If someone isn’t holding a gun to my head forcing me to stay up all night to draft a purchase agreement, I find I’m incapable of staying focused on any particular project for a sustained amount of time. I can’t seem to finish what I start. My retired personality appears to be the polar opposite of my working personality. I used to be such a taskmaster, relentlessly pursuing each task to completion even as the ever-growing pile of duties and obligations buried me. Now duties and obligations have been replaced with hopes and dreams and I can’t get shit done. And it’s really random, bizarre shit, like:
- Organizing my life, specifically my house and more specifically, my closet. I’m doing a massive purge and trying to donate about 75% of our clothes. Thankfully a friend visited a couple of weeks ago and took a lot of my work clothes off my hands, but I have still have bags and bags of the kids’ stuff lying around that need to be driven to Goodwill or sent to relatives. I just can’t seem to muster the energy to collect all the bags, throw them into the car and make the multiple trips necessary to expel them from my life. I also tried jumping on the Japanese decluttering bandwagon, currently all the rage on Pinterest, by implementing certain organization techniques espoused by Marie Kondo in her crazy book which advises you to consider your clothing’s feelings. I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence. I’m supposed to fold all of our clothes into beautiful little envelopes and store them in decorative boxes so that they look like fabric origami and evoke joy. After two full days of washing and folding laundry, I realized that washing and folding laundry is boring as hell and my clothes neither look like origami nor evoke joy. So now I have half-organized drawers and half-organized storage boxes everywhere, the children’s rooms are a mess, our bedroom is a mess, my closet is a mess, and I never want to fold another piece of laundry again in my life.
- Finish reading my friend’s sexy vampire novel. At the beginning of the summer I loosely committed to reading and commenting on a friend’s draft of a novel that’s supposed to convert him from a patent attorney into a literary superstar. I’m only one of dozens of people who offered to read his draft and I think at this point he’s already submitted it to publishing agents so there’s no point in me continuing to edit the old version I have. Sigh, if only I operated based on logic and efficiency. I have this thing where I can’t start a new book unless I finish the book I’m reading, and this quirk apparently applies to draft novels as well (it’s a real compulsion — I didn’t read anything non-work-related for the better part of a year because I had been stuck on a historical novel about the Norman Conquest which I originally had been excited about but ended up struggling through). I guess I find sexy vampires only slightly more interesting than the Norman Conquest. Don’t get me wrong — the draft novel is well written and I want to finish it for its own sake, but while I’m reading it I can’t help thinking to myself, “What am I doing? Why am I sitting here reading a sexy vampire novel right now? I have so much other stuff to do!” It feels like a guilty pleasure that I should be indulging in only sparingly. And hence I’m only a quarter of the way through it. But I made such detailed comments and I hate the idea of wasted effort so I’m just going to keep wasting more effort by pecking away, one chapter at a time, until I finish the damn thing three years from now, hand it to my friend, and have him laugh in my face.
- Become a Yelp Elite Member. I have vague dreams of becoming a food critic and I’m told the easiest path is to write a shitload of reviews on Yelp. I joined Yelp last month and wrote my first two reviews today. So I have a ways to go.
- Organize all the pictures we’ve ever taken and decorate our house. I’ve actually made some progress in this area, but do you know how long it takes to organize every picture you’ve ever taken, especially if you witnessed the rise of the digital camera during your lifetime? FOREVER. I’ve spent countless hours sifting through thousands of pictures trying to determine which ones are worthy of printing. And we keep taking pictures EVERYDAY. The madness has to stop.
- Plan our vacation travel. Okay, boo hoo, I’m the default family travel agent responsible for planning all of our travels. Not anything to complain about, I know. But it’s extremely time-consuming and addictive. I could spend all my time fantasizing about trips to fabulous destinations around the world, and if I didn’t have to eat and pee and take care of my children I would do exactly that. I get so consumed by researching travel itineraries and comparing prices that I eventually have to tear myself away to do normal human things. So far I’ve booked flights to a few random places but got so burnt out that I can’t bring myself to read another TripAdvisor review to figure out what happens after the flight. I want to devote all my waking hours to doing only this, but like vampire novels or meth, it feels like a guilty pleasure that should be indulged only sparingly.
- Get healthy. I have two very specific goals: touching my toes without bending my knees and doing a real push-up on my toes instead of my knees, two things I have never been able to do in the course of my entire adult life. I actually started exercising a couple of weeks ago. Nothing intense — just 20 minutes of interval training and some arm exercises with light weights a few times a week. As of today I’ve gained a pound, so not exactly the effect I was hoping for. I even signed up for a kickboxing class that’s starting later this week and I’m terrified. My body hates every single second that I’m not reclining on the couch. Exercise is definitely in the category of something I wished I wanted to do but actually can’t stand doing.
- Become an actively involved parent. Now that I’m a stay-at-home mom I feel like there’s an expectation that I should do mom things like go to PTA meetings and volunteer as a teacher’s assistant. Trouble is, I don’t really like kids other than my own. And I see school as an opportunity to have a break from my kids, so why would I volunteer to spend time there? Because all the other moms are doing it.
- Take over my husband’s pho website. I just have to learn how to use the internet first.
- Blog on a regular basis. Ha, that’s going swell.
This is just a smattering of some of my goals and I HAVE ACCOMPLISHED NOTHING. To be fair we were on a road trip for over a month and I was really sick for a week after that. And sometimes I go on a cooking rampage and even parent my children. But the truth is I spend my days doing random ass shit. I had to turn down some legal consulting work because I was too stressed out about not having enough time to do my random ass shit. And I love it. I love that I can turn down work. I love that I get to choose what I do. I even love the stuff I hate doing, because I can stop anytime. I’ll work on a project until it’s boring or I can’t stand it anymore and then move onto the next. I’m not the most productive or efficient person in the world right now, but that’s not one of my goals.
Was this blog post supposed to be about my kids and their first day of school? Yeah, but staying on topic isn’t one of my goals either.