Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When this is the kind of day you're going to have . . .

Why get up at 6:30 in the morning? 

A bit of exposition:  It's not for nothing that I have stated over and over again, across the years, that no matter the circumstances I can at most accomplish 6 hours of work a day. Usually, I don't come anywhere close to 6. Three and a half is a much more realistic (and depressing) estimate; sometimes, even that's pushing it. 

When I say "doing work," I don't mean doing some reading for class, then checking my e-mail, more reading, then grading a paper or two, reading five stories about celebrity babies, checking my e-mail, more reading, all while texting back and forth with my hubby and people from school. I definitely do all of that - and almost exactly like that - on a pretty much daily basis (wherein we find much of the problem). I'm talking about only the actual work part of all that - reading, grading, responding to student e-mails, researching, writing a paper/assignment, developing a paper/homework/in-class assignment/activity. 

Given that, this semester, all of the classes I'm in; the course I'm teaching; the hours I spend tutoring in the Writing Center (by mandate of my fellowship . . . sigh); and my office hours all take place on a very long Tuesday and an even longer Thursday - given that, I spend three of the week's workdays at home "working." Hell, ask me what I'm doing on any random Saturday or Sunday, and there's an 72% chance I'll say "doing work" and a 100% chance that, if I've got something else going on, I'll add, "And then doing some work." 

This takes me to the title of this post, which I guess we'll call Rising Action:  Brad's alarm (that is, my husband's alarm) goes off at six a.m. I am wide awake. I continue to be wide awake through the sounds of his morning routine (the running water, the creaks in the floorboards, the footfalls on the stairs). So, my enterprising side takes over and - voila! - I decide to get out of bed at 6:30 a.m. even though I have nowhere to be today, just so I can get a headstart on my work

File:Windup alarm clock.jpg

In the moment before I swing my feet off the bed, I muse, "Wow, I could get like 12 hours of work done today!" What silly silly folly. 

The part of the story that is probably most interesting is the part I will leave out. (Brad has long accused my fiction of too much subtlty; I can't say the reaction in my MFA workshops were usually much different. Pardon me for crediting the reader with a nuanced understanding.) Well, maybe I'll sum it up in a sentence just for continuity's sake:  the speedometer on Brad's Blazer isn't working when he leaves this morning, so he takes my Honda, and I end up spending my morning at Monroe Muffler finding out the myriad defects plaguing the car (we're talking probably $1200-$1500 parts and labor for a car that - oh, I can't even go into this car right now) only to decide, with Brad, that we need to take it to my dad's "guy" (that is, the mechanic who has fixed my family's cars for 15 years and is located an inconvenient 50 minutes away) who will not rip us off, and so I leave with a car still broken and 11:00 on the clock. 

That was a long and somewhat digressive sentence. So is my nature. 

All of this by way of pondering why - when I know I will never get 12 hours of work done (or even 7) - do I still get up at the crack of dawn, set myself an ambitious plan for the day, think about how much stress will be relieved when I get this work done, etc. etc., and by way of all this get my hopes up? 

I'm inclined to say all kinds of things about the desire to inflict pain on myself and/or being delusional. Instead (and this is coming 10.5 hours into my day, after having worked for maybe 2 hours) I'm going with hopefulness. I like the sound of hopefulness much better. I mean, if I'd gotten up at 10 as I am wont to do on Wednesdays and then left the house at noon, the car problem would still be the car problem. I'd have still ended up at Monroe and the car would still be a whole bunch of crap. 

That's part of my philosophy of trying, I guess. It (whatever it is) ain't gonna happen if you don't at least make the effort. Sure, it's probably not gonna happen anyway in 99% of cases. (I've actually gotten less work than usual done today.) But you can't win the lottery if you don't play. And I actually don't play the lottery, but I've got some faith, however, little, in getting up before 7 a.m. with high high hopes. 

(The conclusion? When a day can't get worse, it will. A great pair of Steve Madden flats (which I've worn only four times) suffered the fate of an increasingly wet, gross, salt-laden parking lot while I stood outside discussing on the telly what to do about the car. A brief lament, not in iambic pentameter: 

Half-ruined those precious 
flats be. Woe, oh woe is me.)

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