Monday, September 30, 2013

Time! Stand Still!! (Seriously!)

"I turn my back to the wind
To catch my breath
Before I start off again.
Driven on without a moment to spend
To pass an evening with a drink and a friend

I let my skin get too thin
I'd like to pause
No matter what I pretend
Like some pilgrim
Who learns to transcend
Learns to live as if each step was the end"

- Time Stand Still, Rush

I know many of you are wondering how Greg is doing down there in San Antonio.  I've asked him to be a guest blogger and submit an article to tell all of you just that, which he's agreed to do, but not had the chance yet.  My guess is, he's finding "life in the single lane" about as hectic as I do.  Because, for all my bravado of wanting and intending to keep up with the things that drew me to this great city in the first place, I'm starting to break down under the weight of trying to manage my time.  I can tell you that right now, as I write this and watch football simultaneously, I feel horribly guilty and am clenching my jaw because I should be working, but it's almost 9:00 at night and I tell myself that's silly, let it go and write the damn blog.  But then I look at the basket of laundry sitting over to the side and think about the unwashed dishes in the sink upstairs and think that's how I should be spending my time.

And then there's poor Arya Stark, who's been stuck at Harrenhal for weeks and weeks because I can't manage to read more than a few pages of my book at a time.  Winter may be coming, but I'll be in my grave before I figure out when at this rate.

I know it's silly:  there are a lot of people in the world with real problems, and my time management issues are not among them.  And I also know I might be better at handling the big crises, but I fall to pieces over the small stuff, so some of my anxiety is just my particular neurosis.  Yet, for all of that, I can't even begin to imagine how partners of service personnel who are also trying to raise kids do it.  So when you thank someone for their service, make sure you also thank their partner for keeping it together back home, because it's hard.  Damn hard.

Here's a typical day:  I get up a little after 6:00 to scoot the oldest dog outside before I take the other two around the block for morning "walkie-walk" in the still dark of the morning.  Then I have to fill the bird feeders, clean the litter box, make the bed and tend to a couple of minor house cleaning duties before doing a half hour on the treadmill, then showering and grabbing a fast breakfast that I wolf down as I log in for work, checking Facebook as I wait for it to boot up.  Then it's work until 6:30 at night at least (with, I confess it, the occasional check-in on social media throughout the day) when it's time for night walkie-walk, then feeding the canines, feeding myself, dealing with whatever sports is on TV while I deal with more work or some chores.  My intentions are always good to log back in to work and really churn it out, but I just don't have the stamina I had when I was younger.  At some point, hours and hours earlier than I used to, I hit a wall and can't work anymore, so I'll sit and stare at the TV for a while like I'm a zombie until I gather up the energy to corral the dogs to go up to bed.  Then we get up the next morning and repeat the exact same routine four more times until the weekend.

Come the weekend I try to split my time:  one day is dedicated to errands, house cleaning, yard work and a visit to the dog park.  The other day is when I indulge us in the Pittsburgh lifestyle we came all this way to be a part of.  Last weekend it was a movie, this coming weekend it's the symphony.  And always the Steelers, no matter how badly they are doing.  Starting Wednesday, also the Penguins.  And, for the first time in over two decades. maybe I have to make some time for the Pirates at this time of year.  When the two weekend days have flown by, I'm more behind at work than I should be, and I haven't completed all the domestic stuff I should have.

I was doing okay though really until the change of seasons added some interesting elements, and I realized how I had built a house of cards that could easily be knocked down with the addition of just one more thing.  And I watch the leaves falling like rain, and realize that here it comes, the beginning of the one more thing I just can't quite handle.  I don't know how I'm going to keep up with it.  Plus there's the old house that needs attention before winter. (I cleaned the filters to the air cleaner yesterday, but could I get it all back together correctly tonight?  Not on your life!) 

And all of this brings to mind the untold numbers of people who face these same challenges everyday and do it without complaint, unlike me who just whined mightily for several paragraphs.  And then there are all of those people who meet the day with a smile instead of waking up stressed before they even let their feet hit the floor.  Yes, I can tell you now that all the people who've found a way to make life work without a partner may be my true modern day heroes, because I can also tell you truly that there just are not enough hours in the day, but there are more than enough leaves!

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