Today is Saturday — or at least, it’s Saturday as I start this — and for the first time in a month, I do not have to be at work, a sporting event, or a social occasion. I am sitting here without any overt obligation.
They’re there, lurking around the edges: Oz and I need to go on our weekly neighborhood inspection tour, a tour that’s been sadly negated or truncated by other Saturday obligations; the farmers’ market is running out of Saturdays and I need to lay in my winter supply of potatoes; I have a couple of shopping errands . . . but nothing that impels me to be out of the house and fully functional by 10 a.m. For the moment, I am relaxing.
Without these societal obligations that have dogged my schedule these last several weeks, I have Time. Now the trick is: am I going to use it wisely?
Well, if we know me at all, the answer is obvious: of course not. But that’s at my own peril, and I’m aware of this, so the plan for this weekend is once again more ambitious than I am.
There are winterization tasks, made more immediate by all the gray skies we are living under these days; then there are the organizing tasks, the part where I still have unpacked boxes, unsorted piles and heaps that need homes; and then there’s the preparation for special guests.
In mid-October, which sounds like it’s half a month away but will be here tomorrow, we will host some of Lynn’s dearest friends from Wisconsin. True to Wisconsin form — I’m almost sure this must be written in their state constitution, as reliably as it’s carried out — they will not stay in Gunnison County more than 24 hours.
But Lynn has not seen them since nephew Eric got married three children ago, and she is excited to show them our new house, so she would like everything Just So. Which gives me 15 days to clean up my act, around which I still have to fit work, sports and social obligations.
To clean, I need places to store things, which goes back to that organizing, and then I need to be able to stow the storage, which gets us to winterization, which involves stowing things in spaces where there’s already no room. So it’s all part of the same package, and these are the situations where I do not excel, where everything is of equal importance and time is an equal factor and it all becomes one hapless mess that is most easily solved by lying on the couch with one of my many unread periodicals.
But no. Today I need to be made of sterner stuff. Or at least try to pretend to be.
I have to say, I do not love my ineptitude at this. I like to feel that I am generally a competent person. I know I’m a procrastinator, and I’m okay with that, but there is nothing on Earth that manages to make me feel so ineffectual so quickly as trying to clean up my disorganized mess.
Once upon a time it was an organized mess — I could find anything I went looking for, but over the years this deteriorated, and then we moved, and now I’m lucky to find anything, and there are still several items Lynn and I have yet to locate two years out.
I once joined the board of a non-profit organization that was in the middle of a huge financial meltdown. Once that much became clear, although getting to just that point took longer than it should have, the board was able to start working toward cleaning up the mess, which included getting some professional financial assistance.
I think when she first met with me to begin going through Quickbooks, the bookkeeper was assuming it would be a matter of journal entries and other accounting blemishes. A couple hours into it, however, she remarked, “This is like a plate of cold spaghetti. You pull on any strand and it just leads to a tangled snarl.”
Eventually, with a great deal of patience all around, we did manage to sort out most of the snarled, cold spaghetti. The organization went through a series of tribulations and changes, some of them ill-advisedly forced upon it by our community foundation, about which I don’t share the warm fuzzy feelings so many around here do, but the organization is still around and seems to be much more on point about its mission than it was during my time.
That experience taught me to stay away from boards, which probably wasn’t the lesson I was supposed to learn, but one I haven’t yet brought myself to regret. However, when we start talking about my own life it is much harder to walk away from the cold plate of spaghetti it has become. Every time I pick up a promising strand it just leads to that tangled mess in the middle, and it becomes so much easier to take a nap instead.
So today’s monumental task, on the first day where I have few obligations other than this massive one I’ve set for myself, is to stay on task and try to get at least a couple of pieces of spaghetti unraveled. I am hoping you all will wish me luck, and skill, and derring-do, because it’s going to take all that and more to cleave through this Gordian knot I have woven all by myself.