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March 20, 2000

Monday doesn't need any help from outside sources to send me into a frenzy. All it has to do is be Monday, and the fates and furies seem to take care of the rest. Then I go and make it worse, by taking sleeping pills on Sunday night. That might have been a good idea in theory, but in practice? Not so much. Maybe if I'd taken the pills at ten o'clock instead of twelve thirty, I would have felt refreshed when I woke up. What I got was: The phone rang at eight, before I was fully awake, and it kept ringing all morning, so I never quite got my mind pointed in the right direction.

The first phone call told me all I'd need to know about this Monday. "I'm trying to take care of a few things that have been on my mind," the Boss told me. This usually means that he's taken some petty annoyance and given it the Boss-treatment, working on it in his head until it becomes a huge problem that absolutely must be solved at this very moment or the world will end in a mighty conflagration.

So today's huge problem is an invoice we got from a subcontractor who wants to be paid for work they haven't done yet. The subcontractor uses a pricing breakdown that doesn't line up with the one we have to use to satisfy the architect and owner, so it takes the whole morning to try to work out the amounts and percentages. The architect takes a reduction off the bottom line, requiring us (me) to back into the percentages paid on each item so that everything will line up again for next month's round of invoicing, when we'll have to do it all over again.

All the while, I'm dealing with phone calls that take me in other directions. It's hard keeping the intricacies of several projects in your head at the same time and remembering who needs which answer. When I get spread that thin, I want to crawl under my desk and not do any of it. I want to bark and growl at whoever is handy.

But the funny part is that it only takes a ten-minute break to bring me back to reality. All I have to do is stop doing everything and take a few deep breaths, and concentrate on clearing the surplus sludge out of my head. Somehow that makes it possible to pick out the most critical tasks and do them, one at a time, the way they should be done. It seems so simple to say, but it depends on my being able to remember to do it, and that's not always easy when I'm careering down the slope with no brakes and no steering.

I had a productive afternoon, thanks mostly to the phone being quiet. I had to look and see if I'd left it off the hook. That would have been an accident, of course, but a felicitous one. Anyway, whoever it was that was going to bother me all afternoon decided to leave me alone and let me get some work done, and I'm grateful for that. Although. I wouldn't want anyone that I wanted to hear from to be afraid to call me. Ah, isn't that the dilemma? Everyone knows I don't like to make phone calls, and then I go and complain about receiving phone calls. That should just about cut me off from the outside world for good, shouldn't it?

As I was making my bed this morning, I accidentally knocked a plug out of a socket. That sounds like a hard thing to do by accident, until you remember how poor the wiring is in this place. All I have to do is brush against the outlet and the plug can loosen enough to interrupt the circuit. As if I don't have enough to do, I then have to go around the room and reset all the digital clocks. What am I doing living and working in a decrepit place like this?

Twice in the last two weeks I've had this same exact conversation:

GRADY (on the phone)

Hey, man, how ya doin'?


Okay. What's up?


You hungry? I just had a pizza delivered.


Thanks, but it's eight o'clock. I've already eaten.


You sure you couldn't eat a couple of slices?


Grady, you know I've been on a diet. Thanks, but I'll pass.


Hey, I'm trying to fatten you up like me.


Grady, you weigh 350 pounds. It's taken me two months to get under 150.


Okay, man. But I'll be up all night making my special soup. Fresh lentils, onions, basil. I'll bring you some tomorrow night.


Thanks, Grady. Sounds great.

Cut to the next night. Nothing. No phone call, no soup. He's not even home! I'm shuffling around the kitchen at nine o'clock trying to find something that doesn't take too long to heat up. I appreciate the thought behind my neighbor's offer, but I think I'll be sure to have a backup plan the next time we go through this.

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