bunt sign

April 4, 2000

Fallout from the last three days hit me hard today. I was walking to the post office and my legs suddenly felt as if they were trying to wade through molasses. It took me longer than usual to get my mail and find my way home, and by mid afternoon my head started bobbing around like a poorly tethered balloon. Later on, I couldn't have kept my eyes open if the Beatles got back together and started rehearsing in my garage. (Thus concludes our whirlwind tour of Simile City.)

Daylight savings time has never been friendly to me. I skated through it this year on adrenaline and momentum, but ordinarily the lost hour slows me down for a couple of weeks. Today it all caught up with me, but with all that's going on right now, I can't afford to give in to the fatigue for long. On top of getting ready to move, I'm dealing with the end of the month and the end of the quarter, so I have to make use of whatever time and energy I can muster to make sure it all gets done.

I don't like deadlines. Having a definitive time when something has to be done always seems to cause me to put that thing off until I know I have barely enough time to finish. If I got anything done at all today, it's because I'm overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what has to be accomplished before the end of this month. That's the key, I guess. The more swamped I am with obligations, the better I am at motivating my lazy ass.

When I'm driving, I have the opposite experience. If I know I have to be somewhere at a given time, I'll work out every possible scenario in my head and freak out over anything that might make me miss the deadline. I'll leave so early that I'll either get to my destination much too soon or a bit too late. Sometimes I'll have so much time to spare that I have to try to look inconspicuous until I'm no longer embarrassingly early. Or I'll run into enough unforeseen delays that I'll start agonizing about how late I'm going to be, and how I'm going to handle it, and what if this and what if that. I love to drive, but all the joy is gone if I'm driving against a deadline.

It's probably a good thing that so much of my job involves reacting to whatever comes up during the day. I can be focused, efficient and borderline brilliant if I'm working on one task that has to be done right now. All it takes is the incentive to block absolutely everything else out of my mind. No matter how crucial or time-sensitive this form or that report might be, when a fresh request comes over the fax, it gets all my attention for as long as it takes.

That's one of the reasons that sleep eludes me almost every night. Not being a productive multi-tasker during the day doesn't mean that I can't be doing ten things at once at night, all inside my head, of course. I'll start with anything I didn't get to that day, then move on to what I might have to do the next day, and everything that might go awry, amiss or askew. I'm a worrier, and I'm never so sure of myself that I have any confidence I won't miss every deadline. I'm forever telling myself what details I've already overlooked, or what mistakes I'll probably make next.

I'm my own worst critic, but I'm also my own worst enemy, because stressing over these things has never had a positive impact on getting my work done. If I could just stick to my list and plow through it one point at a time, everything would get done with the serenity and precision of a Greg Maddux two-hitter. There's a man who knows his job, knows how to do it, and knows that even if he misses with one pitch, he's going to get you out with the next one. He also knows that any situation that comes up can be handled, so he doesn't have to worry about it. I'd bet he sleeps as well the night before he pitches as he does the night after.

Since I can't even begin moving until next Monday, all I'm doing now is getting rid of whatever I don't think I'll use again. I have more plastic souvenir cups than anyone needs, for example. I have phone books dating back to the early nineties. I have catalogs from last Christmas, and some from the previous year. For some reason, back when I was a regular coffee drinker, I thought coffee cans were worth saving, because they might come in handy one day, for . . . something. There are clothes in my closet that I'll never wear again, from ragged dress shirts and sweat-stained T-shirts to pants in a size I'll never be again that went out of style before I bought them. (I also have a Billy Beer can, which I will not part with.)

Fortunately, most of this stuff can be recycled, and some can be donated for reuse, so there's very little that has to be tossed outright. I got a start on that last night and between naps today, sorting and organizing and making decisions. The hardest decision for me is not to keep something. That would be obvious if you saw my collection of bottle caps and my stack of old magazines, saved only because I hadn't done the crossword puzzle yet. (I haven't taken the time to sit down and complete a crossword puzzle in about five years, but I have enough of them to keep me busy for about that long without even taking a break to eat or sleep.)

So I have a plan, of sorts, for getting ready to move. Except that instead of doing it, I'm sitting here writing about it.

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