Why it’s impossible to DO anything

Theoretically, I am on summer break. I have a whole list of things I want to do, projects that will be fun and restorative. I can’t wait to start them, but somehow, I keep getting to the end of each day with no fun projects done, and no idea why. On Tuesday, I decided to keep a sporadic diary of what was going on, just to see if I could identify the problem.

9 a.m.: Sit down at computer to read email, answer one important message, and write newspaper column: estimated time of completion, 10 a.m.

9:22 a.m.: Find email from old friend and remember that she’s been ill lately. Decide to send card. Spend five minutes finding cards, and then write heartfelt message of hope and uplift.

9:53 a.m.: Realize that friend’s address is nowhere to be found on the computer. OK, friend’s address should exist in paper form in the files to the left of the desk chair.

10:05 a.m.: Start digging through files. Realize that these have not been purged since this time last year. Begin purge. Estimated time of completion, 11:15 a.m.

11:15 a.m.: Decide to sit in floor to be closer to the action. Remember too late that getting out of the floor is very difficult these days. Save that problem for later. Right now, the problem is all these files.

1:02 p.m.: Discover stack of photos from vacation at Longwood Gardens. Spend five minutes making memory book for sister, who was also on that trip.

1:17 p.m.: Find a stack of financial-looking files that might have been important in 2004. Begin sorting page by page, but lose interest immediately and toss stack of prospectuses in the “burn” pile. Nobody ever reads those anyway. Find friend’s address in stack of files labeled “kid stuff.”

1:32 p.m.: Accidentally expand the purge when you dump a second wicker file basket upside down in the floor. Sigh heavily.

1:41 p.m.: Remember with sudden panic that mother’s dental appointment is at 1:50 and you promised to pick her up at twenty minutes ‘til. Waste five minutes trying to get out of the floor, and then screech out of the house wearing ancient gauchos and a shirt that doesn’t match.

2:43 p.m.: Mom is finished with her appointment and wants lunch. Spend an hour and a half at Wendy’s because son and spouse drive over to join the party.

4:15 p.m. Walk back into study and survey piles of paper. Despair. Realize that the mail has come and gone, and the card is still sitting on the desk, unaddressed. Yell for son, because at this point, you need a minion.

4:36 p.m. Force son to wade through a four-inch folder of health insurance benefit statements, throwing out the old ones. Ignore his pitiable sighs and pleas for mercy. Start stuffing the documents to be shredded into a huge Dillard’s bag.

4:40 p.m.: Wonder where that bag came from, anyway.

4:41 p.m.: Discover a need for a plastic bin to hold the keepsakes and treasures found hidden in the files and send son off to search for one. He disappears.

5:12 p.m.: Find stack of gift cards and spend several happy moments discovering that you can check the balances online.

5:26 p.m.: Resolve to give son the gift cards because you feel so guilty about the health benefits files. Throw the keepsakes into a cardboard box labeled “Christmas Ornaments.”

5:30 p.m.: The shredder only does five pages at a time, so you decide to save the shredding for when son has really ticked you off.

5:47 p.m.: Write friend’s address on the card.

6:00 p.m.: Search for stamp. Find basket that is supposed to hold stamps, return-address labels, and envelopes. It holds 74,356 “free” address labels from St. Jude’s. Gum up the shredder with them. You never liked that shredder anyway.

6:20 p.m.: Google “shredders” to see if they make a home model that shreds 100 pages at a time. They don’t. Go back to sorting pencils.

6:46 p.m.: Make a pencil holder with the roll of tie-dye duct tape you found and a metal can that once held cookies. Arrange rulers and bookmarks artistically in the can. Send spouse out for hot dogs. Spouse disappears.

7:33 p.m. Start throwing random stuff that can’t be categorized into a big box, vowing that you’ll sort it out “sometime.” This will include a mouse pad from UMCOR’s Sager Brown facility in Louisiana, and you will not have any idea why you own that.

8:10 p.m. : No hot dog has arrived. The floor is still covered in piles of stuff, and your column isn’t written. You have addressed and stamped the card, but it has vanished under a pile of graduation announcements that also require cards. Send the dog to fetch a beer. The dog disappears.

So there’s my problem: People keep disappearing. No wonder I never get anything done.



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